The following article was originally written for, and published at, www.ultimatesportstalk.com. The day that many folks had been waiting for finally arrived yesterday with the opening of the Cape Cod Baseball League season. Let's take a quick look around the league...
Actually, before we look at the action on the field, let me say that I really like the new look to the league website. It is much more appealing visually and a big upgrade over the tired, old look which had been around for over a decade.
Also, it looks like most of the teams are going to be pretty active with their twitter accounts. Wareham (@WarehamGatemen) and Falmouth (@FalCommodores) do a good job of keeping fans informed with news regarding their teams all year long. In the days leading up to the start of the season, most of the other teams have gotten in on the twitter action. In particular, Harwich (@harwichmariners or @Jason_Klump) and Brewster (@WhitecapsNet) are busy posting information updates. Kudos to them! Speaking of Brewster, there is a new blog for Whitecaps fans to follow at http://brewsterwhitecapsnetwork.blogspot.com/
Every year there are a number of unfamiliar players who take the field in the first few games of the season. The unfamiliarity is because these players did not appear on the pre-season rosters of their teams and, in some instances, their names still do not appear on those rosters. It seems like this year there are even more of those "unfamiliar" players than ever before. There are too many players to list here, but if you want to know who has arrived on the Cape and which players teams may still be waiting on, a good place to look is to go to the league website, then click on Pointstreak, teams, rosters. Players with a zero for their uniform number are on the roster but have yet to arrive on the Cape.
The first day of action saw very competitive games. There was one tie (due to darkness), two one-run games, and two two-run games.
Chatham lead Cotuit 6-1 after three innings and the Anglers took a 7-5 lead into the ninth. Chatham reliever Zack Jones (San Jose St.) entered the game in the ninth and got into trouble right away by walking the first two batters he faced before giving up a two-out, two-strike double to Kyle Wren (Georgia Tech) to tie the game. Wren was stranded on second and the game went into the books as the first tie of the season. Chatham built their early lead on the strength of back-to-back homeruns - a grandslam by Villanova's Matt Fleishman and a solo shot by Sean Reilly (Westwood, MA.; Rollins.) Victor Roache (Georgia Southern) who lead Division 1 in homeruns with 30, doubled twice for the Kettleers. Mike Roberts didn't waste any time getting Cotuit into running mode. The Kettleers attempted 7 steals and were successful on 5 of those tries.
Brewster and Falmouth were scoreless into the sixth inning before both teams scored a run in that frame. The game remained 1-1 into extra innings. The Commodores scored a run in the 11th and the Whitecaps came right back in the home half to tie it up again. In the 12th inning, the first two Brewster batters went down on strikes. Tanner Nivins (Stony Brook) earned a walk. Preston Beck (UT-Arlington) doubled to left and Nivins, who was running on the 3-1 count, came around to score the winning run. Although he didn't factor in the decision, Brewster starter Anthony Bucciferro (Michigan State) was masterful on the mound, allowing just one hit and no earned runs while walking 2 and striking out 7 over his six innings of work. Tom Myers is another manager who tries to make things happen on the basepaths and the Whitecaps swiped 4 bases. Glad to see that someone in Brewster has a sense of humor. 18 hours after the game ended, there is still no boxscore available but they did let us know that at the start of the game, the weather was "warm, breezy, surfing weather." Guess a lot of Whitecaps fans must have been at Nauset Beach when the first pitch was thrown.
The other one-run game was also an extra inning affair as visiting Hyannis nipped Wareham, 4-3, in 10 innings. A two-run error by Wareham second baseman Jeff Reynolds (Harvard) allowed Hyannis to take a 3-1 lead in the sixth. The Gatemen plated single runs in the sixth and eighth to set the stage for Jacksonville's Adam Walker to double home Eric Stamets (Evansville) with the winning run. Nick Wittgren (Purdue) earned the win, striking out 5 in 2.1 innings of relief. The Gatemen made 3 errors in the game.
Yarmouth-Dennis scored a pair of runs in the 8th and made them hold up as the Red Sox beat Bourne, 2-0. Derrick Chung (Sacramento State) and Matt Wessinger (St. Johns) had the RBI for Y-D. In a game that took only 2:04 to play, the Red Sox received solid pitching from James Lomangino (St. Johns) and Aaron Schuldt (Cortland St.) Lomangino started and allowed just 4 hits in his 6 innings. Schuldt gave up 3 hits while striking out 3 in 3 innings of work to pick up the win. Rhode Island's Chris Pickering was very impressive in a starting role for Bourne. The lefthander allowed just 2 hits and 2 walks in 6 innings. Auburn's Slade Smith pitched 3 innings and gave up both runs.
Host Orleans scored a run in the first and another in the fourth and made them stand up for a 2-0 win over Harwich. Firebirds starter Tyler Johnson (Stony Brook) earned the win, tossing 6 innings of three-hit ball. John Brebbia (Elon) followed Johnson to the mound and limited the Mariners to 2 hits. Trevor Gott (Kentucky) needed just 8 pitches to complete a perfect ninth inning for the save. Pierce Johnson (Missouri State) took the loss for the Mariners. Harwich's bullpen was very impressive as Anthony Pisani (Revere, MA.; Rhode Island) worked 3 innings and Rob Smorol (Rutgers) worked the ninth. Pisani and Smorol combined for 4 perfect innings. The Firebirds and Mariners beat the pace of the Red Sox-Braves game by finishing in just 1:58.
With showers in the forecast, we will have to wait to see what Mother Nature has planned for the rest of the opening weekend.